In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a former marine has killed three police officers. The shooting began just before 9 a.m. on Sunday at a gas station on the city’s Airline Highway, a mile from the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters.
The police department has been the site of more than a week of protests against police violence. The demonstrations were sparked by the fatal shooting of Baton Rouge resident Alton Sterling by police. On Sunday, Baton Rouge officers were reportedly responding to a 911 call of shots fired when they were ambushed by a gunman.
Three officers were killed, and three others were wounded. One is in critical condition. Police have identified the shooter as Gavin Long, a resident of Kansas City, Missouri. Long served in Iraq and was discharged at the rank of sergeant in 2010. In the week before the shooting, Long, who is African-American, recorded a video in which he discusses his anger toward police for the killing of African Americans.
Using the alias Cosmo Setepenra, Long urges African-American men to “fight back” against the police. Meanwhile, Montrell Jackson, one of the slain officers, had posted recently on Facebook about the atmosphere in Baton Rouge after Alton Sterling’s killing, writing, “I swear to God I love this city, but I wonder if this city loves me.
In uniform I get nasty, hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat. … These are trying times. Please don’t let hate infect your heart.” Alton Sterling’s aunt Veda Washington-Abusaleh appealed for calm after Sunday’s shooting.
Veda Washington-Abusaleh: “We don’t call for no bloodshed. That’s how this all started—with bloodshed. We don’t want no more bloodshed. So if you’re not in accord with us, leave, go home, go wherever you come from. This is our house. You can’t come in our house, killing us. That’s what you’re doing, because at the end of the day, when these people call these families and they tell them that their daddies and their mamas not coming home no more, I know how they feel, because I got the same phone call. No justice. No justice, no peace! That’s what we’re calling for. Stop this killing! Stop this killing! Stop this killing!”